At least six people have been the victim of a telephone kidnapping extortion scam in St. Mary's County, police said.
According to police, on February 11 several residents of St. Mary's County received a call from a man asking vague, personal questions about family members. The man claimed a family member was involved in a car crash with his relative. The man said he is holding their family member captive until someone wires money to him in the amount of the vehicle damage caused by the relative. The "damages" range from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Police said the calls have come from a 301 exchange.
Police are calling the extortion scam "very alarming" and note that it is similar to scams which occurred recently in Miami, Florida, Middlesex County, New Jersey and Martinsburg, West Virginia in late 2012 and early 2013.
Should you receive a similar phone call claiming a family member is being held captive, the St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office recommends:
- Use caution and DO NOT divulge any personal information regarding yourself or any of your family members.
- Ask probing questions of the caller and gather as much information about the caller as you can.
- Have the caller describe your family member, the vehicle you family member was allegedly operating, and where/when the accident occurred, etc.
- Attempt to contact and/or account for relatives.
- DO NOT wire any money and contact the St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office or your law enforcement immediately